JACKSONVILLE, FL — When Mac Brunson, co-senior pastor of First Baptist Church stepped into the pulpit this morning, it began as any other Sunday morning worship experience.
But by the time the service ended, Brunson announced his immediate resignation from his pastorate of a dozen years and left the sanctuary with his wife, Deb.
The congregation was stunned by the announcement, sources told The Index shortly after the event occurred, and many are still searching for answers. In his announcement he noted that there is no place of ministry awaiting him and his wife. He noted that the couple “are excitedly waiting for the Lord to show us His perfect will for our lives.”
A letter of resignation posted online noted that while “Deb and I are stepping away from the church at the end of the month” – with tomorrow being the last day of the month – “my last Sunday to preach will be next Sunday morning, May 6.”
In his letter he announced that “Deb and I have sensed for the last six or seven months that the Lord was bringing our ministry to a close here in Jacksonville … We believe, as the Lord has confirmed in our hearts, that some of our most productive and fruitful days of ministry are ahead of us.”
He then began to detail how the couple has spent “these last days and weeks of ministry looking in three directions – inward, outward, and upward. Allow me to reminisce as we look back over our ministry here.”
Brunson, who came to the Florida pastorate in February 2006 after seven years as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX, then presented an overview of his Florida sojourn.
- First Baptist Academy, launched under his pastorate, “has become one of the top Christian Academies in north Florida. My heart’s desire these last few years has been to expand the Academy and start a high school. After much prayer and planning, the high school will open next fall.”
- He reminisced that as he first drove around town with retiring pastor Jerry Vines, he sensed the need for a satellite church in the area south of downtown. “Our South Campus began on Easter Sunday morning, eight years ago … The groundbreaking for our newest Campus is in a few weeks. This past year the Lord, once again, miraculously provided as we raised over seven million dollars in gifts and pledges.” The church website noted the groundbreaking at 5 p.m. on May 20.
Brunson then detailed how the downtown facilities “have seen tremendous change” as the sanctuary was renovated, upgrading Sunday School classroom space for access by senior adults, and refurbishing the youth area.
He then detailed other improvements to the Lindsay Memorial Building and how “doors of opportunity” were opened to the Ortega Campus and the College Campus. He then celebrated the lives that had been reached and families strengthened through those advancements.
Brunson then noted how the congregation, which its missions heart, has become “one of the top giving churches in the SBC to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. He then lauded the church for expanding its missions footprint around the world. “The sun never sets on the ministry of First Baptist Church Jacksonville” due to God calling out “young and not-so-young in our church to serve Him in places literally around the globe.”
He closed his comments by stating that he prays that he has “pointed the church to Christ these past twelve years by opening God’s Word week by week. Every decision we have made here has been bathed in prayer, seeking the Lord’s guidance and direction.
“Now, Deb and I look to our Father for guidance and direction in our own lives … and we pray His continued blessings on this wonderful, historic church. In the days ahead, in everything, in every way, I challenge you to look upward and seek the Lord’s will for your own life, for your family, and for this great lighthouse called First Baptist Church Jacksonville.
“We love you. We leave a little of our hearts here with you. We take a part of you with us as we look to the future. We trust that the greatest days are ahead for First Baptist Jacksonville.”
Brunson concluded by quoting Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
Brunson, a native of Greenwood, SC, has as associate degree from North Greenville College and a bachelor’s degree from Furman University. He received his masters and doctorate degrees from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. After seminary he became pastor of South Norfolk Baptist Church in Chesapeake, VA and then Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, NC.
In 1999 he was appointed senior pastor of historic First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX. He served as president of the SBC Pastors Conference in 2003. Brunson and his wife are parents of three children: Courtney, Trey, and Wills.
The church website lists Heath Lambert also as senior pastor at the church.